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maestrowork
02-23-2006, 05:11 AM
This is not limited to romance, but since romance are mostly written for women (and often by women), I'm going to ask here...

I'm giving a talk at a writer's conference. Part of my talk deals with writing for women. What do you think are the challenges, as well as best practices/tips on writing for women? Are there any specific guideposts (again, it's not limited to "romance" only) as far as style, language, process, plot, characters, etc. are concerned? In other words, what do women want?

veinglory
02-23-2006, 05:27 AM
It is very hard to talk about writing for woman without saying something stereotyped or cloying. Not too long ago writing for women meant no sex (only dirty men like sex). And I thought I was writing my erotic romance for women until I started to get fan emails from men.

I would look more at what types of books seems to sell predominantly to women. I guess I would say its a real mix until you look at the female-heavy genres they often focus on relationships (even those not including women) and about women and their lifestyle/challenges.

However there is a difference between saying 'relationship/lifestyle (romance, saga, chick lit) is bought mainly by women', and 'women mainly buy relationship/lifestyle'. I am not sure the latter is true. It may be by volume as romance readers are voracious, but by individual--hmm, a lot of women buy relationship/lifestyle litte or at all--or actively hate it.

I buy very little romance (despite writing it) and an awful lot of sci fi, non-fiction and horror and tend to get nasty if told my favorite authors are not 'writing for women'.

veinglory
02-23-2006, 05:28 AM
...oh, and you should mention space opera. A fascinating development.

Cabinscribe
02-23-2006, 07:18 AM
In other words, what do women want?

Hi Ray!
I think you're setting yourself up here for all kinds of sarcastic responses ... well, at least from me:

1.) http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/EmoteROFL.gif

2.) What do women want? Hey, that's easy, and can be summed up in just a few words!

3.) Avoid polysyllabic words. Women's brains after all, are much smaller than men's, so it is more difficult for them to comprehend written information.

4.) Don't write about anything like science or politics, because these are topics that only men are interested in.

Ray, I'm just "pulling your leg" here, hoping to give you a chuckle, and not trying to be mean-spirited at all! http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

Veinglory gives some good advice, and I know you will get more good advice from other AW members.

Good luck, and I wish I could see you at the writers' conference. I'm in the process of moving, and once I am settled, the first thing on my agenda (after telling my mother my new address) is to buy your book and curl up and read it!

maestrowork
02-23-2006, 07:34 AM
...oh, and you should mention space opera. A fascinating development.

Oooh, tell me more. Because I can see that would be an interesting discussion. Sci-fi/space opera...

kikazaru
02-23-2006, 06:31 PM
I think that you will get as many different answers as there are women. For my part and I think most women, we want to get to know the character. In fact character always comes before plot for me. I want them to be complex, I want to know what makes them tick, they need to have flaws and quirks that are realistic. They need to make me care about them and think about them long after the story ends. Give me a compelling character, and the plot can be mediocre. I think this is why women do like romance, because the books are character and relationship driven.

I don't want to speak for most women, but I really don't care for complicated technical information (techno thrillers) that may appeal to a large portion of men, however I do enjoy learning about something new. Dick Francis I enjoyed very much because although his character was always essentially the same, in most of his stories there was some aspect of a different occupation that was central to the plot - banking, gems dealing, accounting,fly fishing etc. I found it enjoyable to read and learn .

I will not read books - no matter how well written - that deal with the murder/death or abuse of children or animals, and I know many women who refuse to read them as well. These subjects are much too disturbing and I think hit upon our greatest fears. However, I am fascinated by the pathologist/coroner procedural mysteries. I like knowing that the bottle fly is the first insect to invade the dead. I am thrilled to learn that bodies can saponify given the right conditions. Gruesome medical information just makes me happy - but then that may just be me.

Sakamonda
02-23-2006, 06:45 PM
You should remember that the publishing industry regularly cites statistics showing that 75% (or more) of the book buying and reading public are women. So, if you want to be published, you better be able to write for women no matter what.

I can't speak for all women, but I know that I prefer to read books (fiction and nonfiction) that involve relationships, politics, social commentary, magic, history, romance, science, fantasy, love, sex, and just about everything in between.

Women are generally more literate than men---there are plenty of statistics to prove it----because they read more, and read a greater variety of literature as well. Therefore, they are more discerning in their tastes and demand quality. Above all, you must tell a good story, spin a good yarn, have it be believeable and well-executed.

veinglory
02-23-2006, 09:34 PM
A good point about book buyers being largely women -- having a section on 'writing for women' makes little sense if they are the majority market. It's like the old psychology books I have where the last two chapters are 'psychology of women' and 'psychology of children' WTF so what we the last 10 chapters about, 'normal people'?. 'Writing inclusively' or 'not pissing off or boring the female reader' might make more sense.

I do think that embracing a market that includes women had lead to more work on characterisation and a user of deeper third person in some books--in some it has no place. I would see the expansion of trad sci fi (Silverberg, Bradbury, Van Vogt etc) into the character driven realms of space opera does reflect a growing understanding that science is not 'for men' and it is not so much the presence of science that limits your market as the absence of character. That said, I adored the traditional sci fi too and space opera has yet to blow my mind like Bradbury at his best--writers seem to have lost the high quality speculative elements in developing the soap opera aspects (Octavia Butler and Ursula le Guin excluded for that judgement). Ditto for fantasy romance--the fantasy elements are often trite or cliche and not likely to appeal to a real high fantasy reading fan. They are still dividing the markets rather than combining them.

Another obvious point is that the presence of misogeny and almost total absence of female characters was also not helping some authors/genres. (Lithesome female alien falls for middle aged pretensious human space man=yawn, Cold uber-man rescues screaming bimbo with help of plucky [shudder] but totally f-ing useless female 'sidekick'=double yawn).

Okay now I am ranting. I am a female who spend large amounts of her hard earned cash on books, computer games, role-playing games, graphic novels and electronic gadgets (I am what the British called a 'ladette'). Why is it that when I go into shops with the express pupose of spending a lot of money very quickly I cannot get a salesperson to help me as they are busy being holding court for a gaggle of pennyless adolescent males. And when I finally do get their attention they patronise the crap out of me (despite knowling less about the products than I do) and ask if I am buying Quake for my boyfriend [true story,teeth gnashing and you wonder why I use amazon.com so much]

Writing for women=write a good book, don't have it be explicitly or implicitly chauvinist unless that is a theme addressed by the book, don't make your characters out of cardboard, do put it in shops where I can get to it, don't assume I don't want to buy it--and I'll buy it.

One more point: Harlequin aims for the modern women by putting sex in several of their lines=good. Marvel aims for female readers by putting out a Barbie comics=are they really that f-ing stupid? (It tanked).

[/rant]

If you want me to rant at further length feel free to drop an email

DeniseK
02-23-2006, 10:12 PM
This is not limited to romance, but since romance are mostly written for women (and often by women), I'm going to ask here...

I'm giving a talk at a writer's conference. Part of my talk deals with writing for women. What do you think are the challenges, as well as best practices/tips on writing for women? Are there any specific guideposts (again, it's not limited to "romance" only) as far as style, language, process, plot, characters, etc. are concerned? In other words, what do women want?

Just stand up there and look pretty, smile a lot, and the majority of women won't hear half of what you say, Foxy! :Thumbs: